ACC 2.0: Carving Out a Place in the Digital Space

The American College of Cardiology's (ACC) clinical resources, educational programming, patient education tools and a suite of hospital and outpatient registries are among the offerings that members say are of the most value. To best serve members, the College is now adapting and expanding those resources into digital formats.

With the advent of cloud computing, smartphones, applications and tools that put knowledge sharing and information gathering at a person’s fingertips, the College is challenged with staying relevant and providing members with the information they need and value in a manner that fits with how they are receiving other digital information.

At the 2011 Board of Trustees Summer Retreat, I raised the idea of an ACC digital strategy that would ultimately be the cornerstone of my presidential year in 2013. To meet these challenges head on, the ACC launched a massive effort to develop a strategic road map to guide the College in the digital space over the next five years. Our objectives include:

  • Improve existing member value;
  • Enhance the doctor/patient relationship;
  • Drive member engagement with the College;
  • Drive effective sharing of cardiovascular information;
  • Improve the quality of clinical knowledge and care; and
  • Increase efficiency in the service of members.

Most members want access to information while they are “on the move,” with content targeted to their needs, interests and use habits, integrated with related content and delivered in the format that best suits their individual schedules and preferences. Health policy and data convergence are another area where members are looking for the ACC’s help. Evolving healthcare regulations and health IT capabilities are driving a convergence of clinical data and related healthcare activities.

“Link my performance to my education; use my quality of care information to help drive which continuing medical education courses I need to take,” suggested one member in an interview.

Key to the success of any digital strategy is the creation of a rich digital experience that considers not only the ways users interact with the College, but also how those interactions make them feel.

Among the recommendations:

  • Unify all ACC digital assets under the umbrella of the ACC core brand to create a consistent “feel” across channels;
  • Use the ACC web properties as the primary interface of the College’s digital offerings;
  • Optimize existing ACC web assets for mobile use, the increasingly preferred communication method;
  • Continue to grow and use social media to communicate and engage with members; and
  • Use email to distribute targeted, personalized information to ACC members.

Arguably, the most important digital offering is an individual’s professional profile. The recently launched ACC Connect mobile app delivers modules to help members connect and interact with their peers and the College. Also, the ACC.13 eMeeting Planner App allows attendees to explore sessions, presentations and speakers. CV clinical resources, including guidelines, appropriate use criteria and toolkits, are other important areas of focus for the digital strategy. Other science and quality offerings like the National Cardiovascular Data Registry and quality programs like Imaging in FOCUS and Hospital to Home are also important to the digital strategy.

Also, the College’s new Lifelong Learning Portfolio includes much of the advanced functionality for tracking education activities; however, integration with a member profile and more mobile offerings, as well as targeted offerings for Fellows in Training and cardiac care team members, will enhance educational programming for cardiovascular professionals. 

“I want us to ask ourselves every day, how are we using technology to make real differences in people’s lives,” said President Barack Obama in developing a digital strategy for the U.S. The College is taking this question (quite literally) to heart. Our goal is to have a strategy that puts the College in a position to meet the digital needs of members now and take advantage of the changes in technologies in the future.

Dr. Harold is president of the ACC.